Tag Archives: adventures

snow To Do List

For god’s sake, we just got another ton of snow! We haven’t had this much snow in a decade. But it has given the kids another chance to check off all the snow related items from their lists. These things are all old hat for you Northerners, I’m sure, but they still retain novelty value around here.

I covered Make a Snow Angel here.

In addition, the kids have:

Run Screaming From the Yurt in Excitement, in One’s Pajamas:

Roll Down a Hill:

…multiple times. Until One Loses One’s Boots:

Catch a Snowflake On One’s Tongue:

And the related, but separate, Taste An Icicle:

They’ve covered Have A Snowball Fight. Several times.

And the very important, Go Sledding:

No that’s not really a sled. It’s the lid to an old sandbox. But it worked.

Ta Da!

Okay, this isn’t really an item on the Snow To Do list, but aren’t the holly leaf shadows pretty on the snow?

Back to business. Hold a Snowman’s Hand:

I think the snowman liked it.

Have we left anything out?

wonky weather party

Now, I understand that in vast portions of the world, a frozen pond is No Big Deal. But around here, it’s about on par with a solar eclipse or maybe hail falling through a rainbow. (Oh wait, that last one already already happened .) But seriously, our pond has never had even a speck of ice on it. And yesterday, after days of highs in the low 30s and lows in the teens, temperatures unheard of for this long a stretch in our area, our pond has frozen solid.

Mochi, our cat, thought this was hilarious. Batting pine cones across the surface and chasing them, skidding and turning and sliding on her little paws, she put on quite a show. Cats On Ice!

The kids were simply astonished at this weather anomaly. “Oh My Gosh! Mom! It’s FROZEN!!!!”

See the stick on the ice? Sophie was trying as hard as she could to crack this stuff, but instead, her stick broke. It might as well have levitated for her look of surprise.

I told them the couldn’t go on it because, of course, I was terrified they would fall in. But really, it was so solid it felt like I could stand on it safely. And watching Mochi have so much fun, well, it wore me down. Finally I let them get on close to the edge, where at worse they were risking getting their legs wet. That ice didn’t move, could barely be dented with full rock-driven effort. Gradually my fears lessened. Until finally the kids decided ice-skating (in their boots) was in order.

Can you see Mochi off to the left? It was a party, let me tell you.

I even stood on it for a mississippi or two (“Look at me! I’m walking on water!”), but then I got too nervous and stepped back onto the dock, heart beating fast. I didn’t hear any cracking, but in my head, I had already fallen in. My fantasy life is way too realistic.

But I tell you, if this cold keeps up, I’m going to have to knit my goats some sweaters.

Mochi, heading home, triumphant and fearless.

Back at the yurt, we drank hot cider and looked at the pictures, as if to convince ourselves that it had all really happened. Today the high is supposed to be 40, so maybe it will melt, but there’s no telling. This weather we’ve been having is bizarre.

om my god it’s freaking snowing!!!!

Those Weather Men & Women are getting really good at their jobs. They told us it was going to start snowing around noon, and darned if it didn’t start snowing right on schedule, huge, fluffy feather flakes, coming down like gangbusters, just as we were driving home from the toy store at our local mall. We had timed it to be coming home for lunch, in case the promised snow materialized, and one minute we were driving along with nothing, then poof, SNOW.

The second we pulled in, the kids exploded out of the car, screaming with happiness. It’s hard not to join in with such joyful, infectious madness. I mean, they just went mental, running around in the feather storm, shouting, trying it out standing, running, sitting, lying down, eating it, whatever. Snow, Mom, look! It’s SNOW!!!

We decided to go for a walk. Mochi the Cat, decided to come with us, perhaps to keep us safe from this crazy stuff that totally spooked her at first—this was her first snow, after all—but became just another play item by the end of the walk. I was impressed with how quickly she figured it all out.

Sophie and Mochi are climbing on one of the many downed trees in this spot, evidence from a huge hurricane a decade ago. I thought they looked quite pretty with their white tops, decked out for the holidays.

Luc decided he would try eating the snow, too.

What is it about snow that makes people want to eat it? The three of them, Sophie, Luc, and Mochi, were all bent over licking the downed trees at one point. I wanted SO much to get a photo of that, but I wasn’t fast enough.

Next, Luc took some pictures.

Here’s his sister, always a moving target.

The gnomes, committed to their work, refused to take the morning off.

Happy Solstice tomorrow! It may be the first day of winter, but it sure looks like winter out there to me, today.

in which the kids and i visit Kid Mecca

That’s right, we made the trek into the next city to go here [cue holy music]:

Kid Mecca, otherwise known as Toys R Us, in which the aisles of toys extend into infinity, until they collapse into a toy singularity of impossible density, packaging, and expense.

And in which all these miraculous toys are lit with shoddy tube florescent lighting that make me look haggard and old. What’s up with that?

Here we see Luc, amazed at the sheer quantity of games available, all on one wall. Because Toys R Us is nothing if not about QUANTITY.

We’ve mostly gotten our enormous assortment of toys from yard sales, the swap shop at the dump, gifts, and on occasion, the internet. There are several small toy stores near where we live, and we have occasionally purchased things at these fun, folksy stores: arts supplies, puzzles, plastic chickens. But one thing missing at these sorts of wooden-toy places are the tv tie-ins and the gender differentiation that simply dominate Toys R Us like nothing we have ever experienced.

Here Luc says in amazement, “This is the Swan Castle from the commercial!” and “This entire aisle is pink!”

And it was.

Here Sophie perused the “boy aisle.” “Luc, you have that digger!”

Then, mega-jack-pot. The Hulk Aisle!

Incredible Hulk has been a big thing around our house at times (I suppose he’s a Big Thing wherever he goes), so imagine the kids amazement to see an entire wall of Hulk items. They about fell over on the floor in holy raptures. Mom, this one has swiveling arms! This one is a mask with glow-in-the-dark eyes! This one comes with the Grey Hulk! This one smashes things for REAL!

It was about at this point they started running from place to place, kind of like Po in Kung Fu Panda, where he is seeing, for the first time, holy relics he has only ever read about in books. Oh My God, LOOK! It’s just like it is on tv! And this one shoots real laser blasts! (What? You haven’t seen Kung Fu Panda? You should! It’s fabulous! And stay around for the lovely bit after the credits. I love that bit.)

The Spiderman wall!

The endless Nintendo DS game wall!

Oh, Luc asked me to take a picture of this game.

It had several of his favorite characters on it, Spiderman, Hulk, Wolverine, and Ironman. The executives at Marvel must be very, very proud. He didn’t actually want the game because “it will probably be too hard until I’m older. But if you take a picture, we’ll remember it, and I can try it when I’m five.” He really said this. He hates to be frustrated by a Nintendo game and worries about his little character when his own, limited, playing skills get his pixelated playmate killed. He has game reset guilt. It’s a problem.

HOW did I get out of that store without getting a picture of the Spongebob aisle??? Imagine the Spongebob aisle here.

We also saw three other kiddos have serious meltdowns in adjacent aisles. It IS rather overwhelming in there, but still, it was hard to hear kids being told to shut up, or that they couldn’t have anything because they were there to get some other kid a present, or that they were greedy. That last one seemed extra mean. We saw several heated discussions and not a lot of laughter. Instead, lots of drawn, serious faces. Especially the faces of the people who worked there, which was a bummer, but I guess it’s just another Wal-mart-like Retail-bot job to them, not the Amazingly Spiffy Place it was to us.

I know folks worry about consumerism, plastic junk in the landfills, commercials infecting small people’s brains, imagination-killers, etc. I used to be one of those people, back when ‘kids’ was an idea to be pontificated about, instead of two, real, people that like and trust. But Luc and Sophie really didn’t experience Toys R Us with any of that negativity. And I let myself experience it as they did, full of wonder and amazement. I mean, we were practically dancing around, me taking pictures, all of us squealing with each new discovery and the sheer awesomeness of all those toys, all that play, waiting to be had. We probably looked like morons, to be honest. But so what? We could have been having melt-downs in aisle 5. No, thank you.

After about an hour, we’d been everywhere, done everything. Choices were made, purchases purchased. Sophie bought a bead kit and Luc bought a set of pirate legos.

Here they go, back out into the world, carrying their packages and thrilled with their adventure.

Out in the parking lot I noticed several cars with men in them, the same cars I had noticed with the same men when we entered. Strange. Dads waiting in the car? Drug dealing at the Toys R Us? Pedophiles? We may never know.

For a healing of old toy store wounds, I highly recommend the Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium, for the best, most magical, sentient toy store ever to grace the big screen. And the delightful Natalie Portman is rarely to be missed, so there you go.

happy halloween!

I’ve posted before about our crazy-down-the-road neighbors who dude up their house for Halloween every year like nobody’s business. This year is no exception! 2009’s theme is Zombies, particularly Decapitated Zombies who are Carrying Their Own Heads, and, oddly, these are a special subset who have their brains resting right on their shoulders. Apparently carrying one’s head in this way is all the rage in zombie fashion this season, or so I’ve heard. I wouldn’t know personally, of course, as I am not a zombie.

Lo! Zombie’s playing football!

See what I mean about the head-holding?

Actually, this is totally gross. I’m glad I’m not a zombie.

But wait! There’s more!

This one speaks for itself, doesn’t it?


This is taking dieting too far.

But you can’t have a Zombie Halloween Extravaganza without live music, am I right? Okay, not live music, but, you know what I mean.

How about a zombie lounge singer?

And her back up band?

Remember: ALWAYS have a Zombie Contingency Plan.

Happy Halloween!

happy equinox!

Okay, I know the equinox was last week. But I couldn’t find my camera until today, and it was full of lovely equinox photos, so how could I do an equinox post without it? Well, I couldn’t. But I can now! So look what we did on the First Official Day of Fall….

Well, that doesn’t really show you much, except two kiddos running through a field.

Here is what they were chasing…

Geese, flying in a V, what can be more First Day of Fall than that?

Here is Sophie, honking and running…

And Luc, in his tarantula shirt, thrilled. “Mom, I was running so fast that I was flying with them!”

Okay, what we did was go to this two hundred year old house, built by a Scottish fellow back in the day. Around the house is a mile’s worth of trail through some lovely grounds, all called (for reasons I could not find out) The Poet’s Walk. Maybe because the view is inspiring, or maybe because a poet lived here at one point…if I find out, I’ll update this post. The grounds keepers have put up a little box with cards and pencils and invite folk to write a poem and put it in the box, and they promise to read them all. Or light fires with them, you know, whatever.

This is Sophie’s poem:

We went with a few other families. The kids were hilarious.

Of course, this is all I saw of them for most of the walk:

Here I finally caught up to Luc, who had stopped because he thought this sign must have a poem on it and he wanted me to read it.

How disappointing that it was just the name of the tree on the sign, but I think that I shall never see a poem as lovely as a tree. And that’s a fact.

As we walked, a storm started coming in, providing some dramatic First Day of Fall skies.

The grounds really are idyllic. While you look at these, imagine strolling along, cool misty air, the leaves just starting to turn yellow here and there….

The kids ran just about the entire time.

And what the heck is this alien looking thing? There was a tree full of them.

When we finally got home, we topped off our equinox celebrations by making a homemade pumpkin pie from a fresh pumpkin we carved, the first of the season.


Happy Autumn!

paperhand puppet intervention

Every year the Paperhand Puppet Intervention does a huge show at a nearby outdoor theater. This year was “The Living Sea of Memory.” Live music, fun stories, and huge, gorgeous, amazing puppets.

Look. See what I mean?


This is Tiama and Apsu at the dawn of the world, breathtaking, because the Mother and Father of All Things should be breathtaking.

To give you a sense o the scale, look at this:

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This show was one of their best, if you ask me. We were all totally engaged from the second the giant stone heads rolled, literally rolled, out to tell the tale.

Here the gods and goddesses, Tiamat’s children, are born:

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Unfortunately, the gods are so raucous, their father gets pissed that his peace has been disturbed, and he tells Tiamat to kill them.

A bit extreme, if you ask me.

She says no, but their response to their father’s rage is extreme, too. They kill him.

Why are these old stories so gut wrenching?

Well, the loss of her lover turns the once beautiful Tiamat into a raging monster.

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Which had Luc riveted:


Tiamat gives birth to more children, monsters like her transformed self, ready to fight the other gods in her rage.

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Meanwhile, they call Marduk, the biggest and baddest of them all…

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only for him to trick them out of all their powers…

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and so the battle between child and mother erupts. It ends when he fires an enchanted arrow into her mouth, piercing her heart.

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It always feels like that, when I fight with my kids, too.

Luc was really, really worried about her. He wanted to know if they could repair the puppet, if she would be all right, and who was going to stop Marduk from doing any other mean things. The fact that we were looking at colorful paper, held up by clearly visible sticks of wood really didn’t diminish at all the impact of the story on any of us.

But she doesn’t die. Her body becomes the ground and the sky. And the puppet lives on to do another show tomorrow.

But the story moved on, acted out now on the green hills of Tiamat’s body. The story of a prince, ready to conquer the world, who becomes a Greenman, instead.

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Some of the most delightful puppeteering happened in this section, with huge dancing tree puppets…

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…and the three super-tall wise women doing a wild woman dance—on stilts!

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When the lion pulls off the last of the prince’s armor, and identity, only to die of the prince’s own arrow, we were all crying.

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Luc, tears rolling down his sweet face said, “I think that prince must be very, very sad.” And so he was, which made his transformation into the Greenman, his drum made of the lion’s skin, all the more powerful and uplifting. Wild dancing from everyone as he beat his drum, and a palpable sense of the value of joy and celebration! The music here was great.

But the story moved on again, now to memories, and to our grandparents. Lovely short vignettes, some sweet, some piercing in their poignancy.

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I am always amazed when a piece of writing or theater can take me from laughing to true tears in a minute, and a couple of these pieces did. The writer part of my brain scrambles to work out how it was done, even as the spectator part of me revels in the ride.

Few pictures remain as it got too dark. Last was a shadow puppet sequence based on stories from the Mayan Popol Vuh.

But you can’t believe the thrill when the lion returned to walk up the long, long aisle in the near dark!

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Here with a flash:

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See the little girl in the maroon dress? Sophie, of course, FEARLESS, as always, going up to touch the lion’s face. In the car on the way home, Luc asked her, “What did the lion’s fur feel like?” Her answer: “Cloth, and paper mache, and sort of like it had magic inside it.”


I have never failed to be inspired by these paper-puppet-folk who devote so much of their time to such beautiful art.

Thank you again, Paperhand Puppets!

late summer walk

Walking on our property yesterday, everything is lost in green, but somehow, you can feel that the peak of summer has passed.

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The small creek is almost dry—just enough mud that the kids like to muck about in it. It will start filling up with fall rains, soon.

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We didn’t do a goat walk this time—I’m not convinced that the babies wouldn’t run away. We’ll wait a bit longer before taking them all out.

Look at how tiny Luc looks next to this huge poplar!

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The first red leaves of fall are starting to appear. These are sassafras, so pretty.

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The times, they are a changing….

dinosaurs among us

The other day we were doing our hanging out thang when SUDDENLY the water in our water glasses started doing this mysterious shimmy that could only mean One Thing.

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HOLY CRAP! Dinosaurs stalking us through the forest!

But no worries, after all their recent training in zombie killing, Sophie and Luc were totally up to the task.

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Can we say Kids Gone Mental?

But after wrestling this Parasaurolophus to the ground, my dynamic duo realized that there were simply too many of them. The forest was teeming with dinosaurs! What to do, what to do????

I know! Hit the PAUSE button!

Poof! Giant, amazing dinosaurs frozen for all to see! Perfect!

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Look at this one, peeking out from behind a tree:

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The kids were just screaming with excitement when they saw it. This guy (gal? I’m not checking, that’s for damn sure) is as long as THREE YURTS.

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That’s a lot of dinosaur!

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Honestly, seeing life sized dinosaurs frozen among the trees makes me really, really glad they are EXTINCT.

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Here I was trying to get Sophie to stand in the shot in such a way that it would look like the was going to stomp on the head of the dino, but she really wasn’t interested. She wanted to run, run, run to see what was next….

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Ironically, the small ones were more scary. Maybe because they don’t simply boggle the mind? I can pretty easily imagine one of these little blue guys ripping me into shreds….um, yikes.

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This one is called a Maya-saurus. I’m not even kidding! Okay, it’s really spelled Maiasaurus, but that’s close. And get this: it’s the so-called ‘Mother Dino’ because it’s bones are usually found next to nests of its own kind. That’s right. Somebody named a dinosaur after me. The Mommysaurus.


Anyway, after staring at dinosaurs all morning, we searched for, and found, the rift in the space-time continuum that had allowed this leakage of prehistoric critters into our own time-stream, and, well, we sent them all home. Good-bye dinos, it’s been fun. And it’s a good thing Luc remembered to press PLAY, or they might have been PAUSED forever. Because dinosaurs love to PLAY.

After that, we had lunch. PBJ anyone?

in which we go to the zoo and have a marvelous time

What? You’ve never been to the North Carolina Zoo? You should go! It’s a terrific zoo. I never get that awful feeling I’ve gotten at some other zoos, that feeling of looking at bored, unhappy critters in captivity. The NC Zoo animals all have these terrific, huge, natural habitats and are often busy doing activities of their choosing. Instead, the weird part of going to the zoo is often the other humans: the worst parent-child interactions I have ever seen have all been at the zoo. I often imagine that the animals think we are sick. But we were lucky on this trip—we saw little in the way of bizarre and mean parenting. Woo hoo!

Look at some of the cool animals we met.


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I love their dinosaur-like legs.

The lions were unimpressed with us. They didn’t bother to wake up

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The chimps were having a good time chasing each other around this giant tree sculpture. Best moment—a boy chimp peed off the twenty feet high peak, a huge golden arc that stretch the entire distance! He must have a chimpy bladder the size of a basketball.

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Luc’s favorite….Elephants! This one is red from dusting herself with NC Red Dirt. Ain’t she grand?

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Luc was also interested in this elephant skull replica, staying to examine it for quite a while.

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Luc’s second favorite—a metal water mist dispenser tree…thing.


Sometimes it is the really simple things that capture one’s imagination!

Actually, the one moment of painful parenting we saw on this trip was in regard to the mist-thing. These two kids were having a ball running in and out of the mist and a tired-looking mom snapped, “Get out of there. We paid to see animals, not play in the water.” I wanted to give her a shoulder massage or a margarita or something, because I know when I’m rejecting fun that hard, I seriously need to relax.

When the animals are too far away to see (the habitats for many animals cover acres) the zoo provides lifelike bronze sculptures to climb on. The kids were just about as happy with this guy as they would have been seeing a real rhino.

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On to my personal favorite, the beautiful zebra!

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The zebras and the giraffes hang out together. Check out this giraffe trying to get to the ground. Giraffe yoga!

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And this one: giraffe mommy and baby! I almost got a picture of an authentic giraffe cuddle—they entwined their necks!—but I missed it. Here they are a split second post-cuddle. Awwwww….

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The giraffes were Sophie’s totally favorite part because she actually got to FEED one! They have a new feeding station that sticks way out into the giraffe habitat and Sophie fearlessly dangled some leaves (with the zoo park ranger person standing beside her) out for a giraffe to eat.


See that tiny hand sticking out of the railing? Sophie’s. Top Zoo Moment right there.

Yay, zoo! We came, we saw, we conquered!


And a huge and delighted THANK YOU to Cathy the Zoo Fairy for the zoo passes! You made it all possible.